Neighborhood Bridges

Neighborhood Bridges is a nationally recognized literacy program using storytelling and creative drama to help children develop their critical literacy skills and to transform them into storytellers of their own lives. Our skilled teaching artists animate learning and transform classrooms into communities where students think independently and work collectively. Founded in 1997 by Peter Brosius, artistic director of the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, and Jack Zipes, Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, the program collaborates with Twin Cities area classrooms and reaches over 500 students.

Neighborhood Bridges addresses state and national language arts standards. As a recipient of the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) grant, Neighborhood Bridges is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a national model for arts education.

  • Partner Schools
  • Impacts and Outcomes
  • Teaching Artists
  • Breck School Partnership


This school year, Neighborhood Bridges is partnering with 24 classrooms at 11 schools in the Twin Cities Metro Area.

Anishinabe Academy – 4th & 5th grades
Cityview Community School – 5th grade
Jefferson Community School – 3rd grade
Lyndale Community School – 3rd grade
Marcy Open School – 4th grade
Sheridan Arts Magnet – 5th grade

Adams Spanish Immersion Magnet - 5th grade
Wellstone Elementary – 5th grade

Garlough Environmental Magnet - 3rd & 4th grades
Moreland Arts & Health Sciences Magnet - 3rd & 4th grades

Lincoln Elementary School - 4th & 5th grades


The impact of the Bridges program is assessed by formal student and teacher evaluations conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI).

The impact of Bridges was particularly evident among English Language Learners: 15% more of these students met or exceeded state standards in the MCA reading test when compared to ELL students who had not been in Bridges.

Exceeding goals, 100% of 2nd and 3rd grade students and 97% of 4th-6th graders who participated in Bridges in for the academic year met the benchmark for student achievement in writing.

Students also notice changes in themselves: 91% of students in grades 4 through 6 responded agree or strongly agree for “From the beginning of the year until now I’ve gotten better at writing stories.” 92% of students in grades 2 and 3 marked yes when asked if they were a better writer.

Full reports are available here and here.

For the outcomes measured by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Early Education & Development (CEED) for the Early Bridges program, click here.
Sandy Agustin
Maria Asp
Pedro Bayon
Rachel Bernstein
Adlyn Carreras
Paul de Cordova
Annie Enneking
Aaron Fiskradatz
Tessa Flynn
Brian Grandison
Chris Griffith
Julie Smith Healey
Matt Jenson
Leif Jurgensen
Olivia Levins Holden
Katy McEwen
Derek Phillips
Lindsey Samples
Jay Scoggin
Kiyoko Sims
Emily Zimmer

Each school year, one classroom of upper school students in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 at Breck School participate in a year-long class called “Performance and Social Change.” The class is offered in partnership with the Neighborhood Bridges program at The Children’s Theatre Company and the Breck School Service Learning Program. The course is a high school version of a course with the same name that is taught at the University of Minnesota by Maria Asp, of The Children’s Theatre Company, and Professor Sonja Kuftinec, of the University of Minnesota Department of Theatre.

The class meets four times per week for forty-five minutes. Each Wednesday, for twenty weeks spread throughout the school year, the students travel to Lyndale School in Minneapolis to volunteer for one hour and a half (90 minutes) as teaching artist interns during Neighborhood Bridges sessions in three classrooms. Each week the interns are responsible for working with small groups of third grade students to facilitate the rehearsal of scenes that the Lyndale students then perform for their peers. Interns also tell stories from the Neighborhood Bridges curriculum to a classroom of students, facilitate a discussion of the story afterwards, and lead theater and warm up games. Some interns have the experience of helping to edit students’ writing. At Breck School, interns also have an opportunity to teach Bridges sessions, which are adapted to fit in a series of a 40-minute sessions, to Breck third grade students. Tom Hegg of Breck School is the primary instructor for the class. Three Neighborhood Bridges teaching artists also provide instruction in the course. Tom Hegg and Kiyoko Motoyama Sims are the administrative coordinators for the partnership.

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